Since September 11th, the City of New York has been forced to increase security at large events, including Shea Stadium. To the dismay of COMET, the Juniper Park Civic Association and many other civic groups, much-needed police manpower was being pulled out of the local precincts in Queens North, including officers from the 104th Precinct.

While the Juniper Park Civic and COMET realize and support the security efforts, we believe that depleting police manpower from our neighborhoods can result in a steady rise in crime and fewer officers available to answer quality of life calls. Pulling officers for events such as this can not only result in a longer response time for service calls, but also puts additional stress on our officers who must pick up multiple jobs at a time.

In order to call attention to this situation, JuniperParkCivic AssociationPresident, Robert Holden, created “Don’t Take Our Cops Out To The Ball Game” posters,
as well as petitions that would be distributed and signed by local residents.

When COMET heard about the effort, we did not hesitate to lend a hand. The “Don’t Take Our Cops Out To The Ballgame” effort was quickly picked up by the WCBS-TV Ch2 and WABC-TV Ch 7 news media. As a result, the effort was called to the attention of NYC Police Department officials who came up with a remedy for the problem by soliciting volunteers from precincts citywide, who would be assigned to the Shea Stadium detail for the entire baseball season and then return to their respective precincts at the end of the season.

Although this remedy addresses the concern about depleting manpower from the 104th Precinct and other commands in Queens North, we question why police officers are being used, not to provide security, but to direct traffic going into and out of the stadium. We both agree that NYPD Traffic agents can be used for this task, rather than sacrificing police manpower. By using traffic agents to focus of the traffic congestion, the police officers can be used for additional security or addressing crime in the neighborhoods. Furthermore, the city will save money by using traffic agents rather than police officers.

Bob Holden and I recently met with Assistant Chief James Tuller, Patrol Borough Queens North, to discuss the “Shea Detail” concern and other problems affecting Middle Village, Maspeth, and south Elmhurst. The issue of using NYPD Traffic agents was brought up to Chief Tuller who not only dismissed the suggestion, but also failed to come up with a valid reason as to why agents were not being used instead of police officers. His indifference to the suggestion was alarming. We believe that he is not taking the needs of the communities, under which he serves, into consideration.

We will continue to prioritize this issue and work to address the manpower concerns at Shea Stadium and precinct levels. In addition, we intend to also focus on drain of manpower at other large events in Queens North that demand security for the crowds of people who attend them. We believe that the security needs as well as the community needs can be addressed with some creative planning.

The writer, Roe Daraio, is president of COMET and a longtime civic leader in Maspeth.